How to Win Your First Semester in Medical School
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How to Win Your First Semester in Medical School

You may experience culture shock during your first months of medical school, especially if you’re studying in a Caribbean or international medical school. College may have improved your critical thinking, but you might still need to critically reevaluate your former habits to win the coming semester.

Stay Connected

Your first instinct in the face of a rigorous curriculum might be to lock yourself in a room with your textbooks whenever you have spare time. This will only hurt your work. Strong social ties have been linked to better health and you need to stay healthy if you want to focus on your studies. Make new friends on campus through study groups, and stay in touch with your friends and family as well. A strong support system will get you through the bleakest moments of medical school.

You Won’t be a Perfect Student – at First

Even if you’re coming directly off an all-star run in college, you might find adjusting to medical school difficult at first. After some trial-and-error in the first couple of months, though, you’re sure to find your groove — just keep in mind that you’ll need to adapt your study strategy each semester based on your new schedule.

Procrastination Happens

Like the daily setting of the sun or the eighteenth installment of the Fast & Furious franchise, procrastination is inevitable. Don’t beat yourself up over the natural impulse to occasionally put off studying. In fact, relaxing and hanging out with friends can even recharge your batteries so that your next study session is more effective! Just don’t allow procrastination to become your default setting. Shameless self-promotion: we put together some ways you can beat it.

Balance Your Schedule

Enthusiasm got you this far, but it could also cause you to burn out. You may have imagined joining clubs, assisting with research, or doing volunteer work during medical school. Save that for later. Use your first semester to see how much you can handle academically before you fully commit to extracurricular endeavors.

Find Your Own Way

What works best for your friends may not work well for you. Part of making your way through medical school is figuring out what aspect of medicine and which specialty most interests you. Make time for self-discovery, and see what truly resonates with you.

Everything Will Be Okay

Medical school may seem like a Herculean task now, but let the future motivate you. When you graduate, you’ll be joining the profession you’re most passionate about. (No, Batman still doesn’t count). The first semester is a trial-by-fire for most students. Even if you don’t do as well as you would have hoped, there are nine semesters left to improve. When you’re treating your first patient, this first semester’s stress will be a long-forgotten memory.

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